From U.S. Coast Guard reports
In the early hours of a mild spring day a lone fisherman headed out for a day of squid fishing off the south shore of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. His boat, a wooden 38-foot Novi-style stern trawler built in 1947, was designed as a shellfish dragger for sheltered local bays and sounds. The boat had a history of being cared for meticulously. She had undergone an extensive restoration about 10 years prior, but her size and work within the boundary line meant that she did not require a stability test.
The skipper, an experienced fisherman, had owned the vessel for a little more than a year and generally dragged inside of 3 miles. He almost always fished alone. However, fishermen in this area of New England tend to fish in groups and look after one another.
The fishing was good. One fisherman recalled seeing the skipper of the old Novi bring up a load that lifted the bow out of the water by a foot. He motored close and shouted, "How much did you have in that bag?" The skipper reportedly replied, "1,000 to 1,200 pounds!"
That afternoon, the weather began to deteriorate. The seas were steep and tightly spaced, locally referred to as a Nantucket chop. The fleet headed back in.
At about 4 p.m. a mayday call echoed through the fleet's pilothouses. "I'm going over! I'm going over! I'm going over!" and then silence. Many recognized the voice, and several boats turned back.
The crew of the first boat on the scene was dismayed to see debris surrounding a partially submerged hull. Moments later the Novi slipped below the surface. The crew transmitted its location to the Coast Guard and began conducting a search as more fishing boats arrived to help.
A fire rescue dive team located the wreckage a couple of days later and found the skipper's body in the forward cabin. The Novi was resting intact on its keel and listing to port. There was no obvious damage to the main structure, and all gear appeared to be stowed. The starboard wheelhouse door was padlocked closed and the port side door was wedged shut because of the list. The rudder was hard-over.
Coast Guard investigators determined the cause of the accident was a combination of weather and stability. We don't know the amount of fish on board or where and how it was stowed. Based on the boat's position on the bottom and what was reported by the fisherman who saw the bow upright just before the boat slipped beneath the waves, the vessel may not have capsized. It is possible it took a large wave, causing water to enter the hold and sink the vessel by the stern.
As a boat owner, you should keep track of all physical changes made to your vessel, including new fishing gear. Consult a naval architect or marine surveyor on possible stability changes. Ensure all means of egress are free from obstruction. Carefully monitor and secure your gear and catch. Be sure to keep all freeing ports and deck drains clear and batten down all hatches when not in use.
For more recommendations, please visit www.fishsafe.info to access "A Best Practices Guide to Vessel Stability."
This article is based on U.S. Coast Guard reporting and is intended to bring safety issues to the attention of our readers. It is not intended to judge or reach conclusions regarding the ability or capacity of any person, living or dead, or any boat or piece of equipment.
Callifornia crabbing: Here's a fun video shot on the decks of the Majestik while catching Dungeness crab off the coast of northern California.
Over 500 lots of seafood processing equipment formerly owned by Adak Seafood will be sold at auction on Tuesday, June 18, starting at 10 a.m. Hawaiian-Aleutian Daylight Time at the Hilton Garden Inn in Anchorage Alaska.
The equipment is located in a recently updated 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art processing facility in Adak, Alaska. Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Hilco Industrial, which conducts 75 machinery and equipment auctions in a wide range of industries annually, will conduct the auction.
Adak Seafood opened originally as Ada Fisheries in Anchorage in 1986. The facility, updated in 2005, is located on the island of Adak, the southernmost city in Alaska near the western end of the Aleutian Islands. The facility processed cod primarily, as well as halibut, blackcod, crab and pollock, Hilco says.
Alaska fisherman and commercial fisheries activist Kevin Adams was elected chairman at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board of directors meeting on May 9 in Anchorage.
The governor-appointed board consists of seven members: five seafood processors and two industry representatives actively engaged in commercial fishing. Adams was appointed to fill a harvester seat by Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2004.
With 38 years of fishing experience in Bristol Bay, Adams has long been an active member in the Alaska fishing industry, ASMI says. He has worked for both the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association, and represents Alaska fishermen on numerous boards.